The Lowy Institute’s dangerous nuclear propaganda, Online Opinion, Jim Green, 28 December 12 “……The Lowy Institute portrays itself as an independent think-tank. But a close looks at the Institute’s work in relation to uranium sales to India suggests it is a dangerous, reactionary propaganda outfit.
First to briefly recap the debate over uranium sales to India (as discussed in Online Opinion earlier this year). India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea are the four nuclear weapons states outside the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Five countries are ‘declared’ nuclear weapons states within the NPT − the USA, Russia, UK, France and China. The declared weapons states are obliged under the NPT to seriously pursue nuclear disarmament, though none of them do so and nothing is done to hold them to account.
For many years it was bipartisan policy in Australia to permit uranium sales to NPT states (including declared weapons states) but not to countries outside the NPT. The Howard government reversed that policy in 2007, the Rudd Labor government held firm on the principle of refusing uranium sales to non-NPT states, but Julia Gillard orchestrated a policy reversal at the 2011 ALP National Conference. Bilateral uranium export negotiations are slowly progressing between Australia and India.
The problems and risks of opening up uranium sales India are many. It legitimises India’s nuclear weapons program and could materially support that program (by diversion of nuclear materials or by ‘freeing up’ domestic uranium resources). It makes it difficult to maintain bans on nuclear trade with other non-NPT states. It encourages other countries to abandon previous nuclear export norms (for example China is using the India precedent to justify nuclear sales to Pakistan). It could encourage non-weapons states to pull out of the NPT, to build nuclear weapons and to do so on the assumption that civil nuclear programs will not be seriously disrupted by bans on nuclear imports or exports. It makes it more difficult to deal with problems like Iran’s suspected weapons program when double standards are clearly being applied.
To join the NPT, India would need to dismantle its nuclear weapons. For Australia, there were two defensible options. One was to maintain the ban on uranium sales to non-NPT states. The other was to make uranium sales conditional on concrete disarmament concessions such as India ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), stopping the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and stopping its missile development program. There is now bipartisan policy to pursue the third of those two options − uranium sales with no disarmament concessions from India. It’s a complicated debate − still more complicated by the fact that in recent years some other countries have abandoned bans on nuclear exports to India…….. http://www.onlineopinion.com.au/view.asp?article=14512